Malaysia has launched a nationwide timber policy designed to boost production of value-added wood products.

The long-term policy, launched by plantation and commodities minister Peter Chin and the deputy prime minister Najib Razak on February 17, aims to double the value of annual exports to M$53m by 2020.

By this date, the National Timber Industry Policy foresees 60% of the value of exports will be derived from the shipment of further processed timber products.

The plan’s seven pillars are industry structure, supply of raw materials, innovation and technology, marketing and promotion, human capital development, funding and incentives and bumiputera participation.

“Among the critical factors that pressed for the establishment of a national policy were declining supply of raw materials, escalating production costs, fast-moving changes in the market place, trade barriers, human resource management and technology advancements,” said Mr Chin.

“We have to start cracking on enhancing the industry to become a leader in the manufacturing sector in the country and attain sustainable growth in the long run.

“Although the economic situation in 2009 will be difficult, I am confident the industry, which has a track record of resilience, will weather the storm and emerge on a stronger foothold.”